Grid Down! Communicate!

by Rick Donaldson, CET, N0NJY

I wrote a book a few years back on Basic Survival and Communications in the Aftermath. I did a three day long give away of the book. Thousands of copies were downloaded. I suspect the Prepper Community always wants to do things on the cheap, and free, and always want more, but seriously, a few more hundreds of the books were sold.  A few reviews were written.  This is a good piece of educational information for the completely uninitiated, and refresher for those who have more background in communications.

I suggest you go get a copy. It’s in digital format only. It’s cheap too. Under 5 dollars. Read it!

No, it’s not in a hard copy. I want people to LEARN, not carry three hundred educational books with them in their bug out bags. Save that space for food, water and ammo.  But, go get it, you’ll thank me later.

Here’s the link to that book:

This blog entry will discuss something near and dear to all our hearts. Today’s communications methods. Sort of. Keep reading.  Let’s look at a typical example.

You get up in the morning, fire up your computer either at work or home, read through Facebook, drop into Twitter and send a few tweets, check your email, pay your bills, message your friends about lunch, your wife about date night, laugh at the grandkids’ recent pictures posted by your daughter 1200 miles away and then you log off, or put your phone away and go off to deal with the day’s business.

Question: Which one of those things did you do in that paragraph that did not require 1) electricity, 2) a radio, 3) the Internet, 4) a computer of some kind?


Every, single communications thing you did (and make no mistake, all of it was ‘communication’) used electricity, used a RADIO, used a computer and used the Internet.

Take away just ONE of those things, say, electricity, and nothing functions. Nothing. Sure, you might have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Take away electricity, you’re going to have enough power to back up and/or shut down. Cell towers aren’t going to function though. Neither are the routers over at your local ISP. Your wifi isn’t going to communicate with your computer, even if you’re using a wired network. No power.

Take away the computer and you lost it all.

Take away “radio” from the equation, and you lose the network as well. Cell phones are RADIOS. Wifi is a RADIO. Signals since between ISPs use RADIOS (and fiber and copper. MacDonald’s ain’t gonna have wifi either if the power goes down or radios are disabled.

How are you going to contact that daughter 1200 miles away now? Pony Express probably. Because, if the power is out, you’re not going to be pumping gas either. Your fridge is out, and your frozen meat is melting.

There is currently ONE WAY in disasters, we get messages out. We use Ham Radio Operators. The Amateur Radio Service has been around since the inception of Radio itself. Over one hundred years. Nicola Tesla was using it as remote control in the late 1800s, the device because a remote controlled torpedo. Marconi transmitted the “first radio signals” Trans Atlantic in 1901. Thousands experimented with radio, learning and teaching themselves about radio waves and used Morse Code to send “Continuous Wave” or CW signals around the world even in World War I, and later in World War II.

Radio signals travel at the speed of light, 300 million meters per second. It is the fastest thing we know, and therefore, radio communications is, for all intents and purposes, instant.

Radio can be used for you or against you. It can be harmful, it can be helpful (in many ways). There are frequencies that can be sent around the world, or deep into space. There are even frequencies that can be sent through the Earth to the other side.

Radio, like all other electronics however, requires power. Electrical power. From the grid. Or, a generator. Or a Battery. Or a Solar Panel. Or a hand-cranked generator.

Amateur Radio has been around, as I said, since the beginning of the technology age and industrial age. And Amateur Radio has been there in disasters, war, survival situations, military uses, civilian uses, weather spotting, storm chasing, radio control of remote controlled airplanes and many, many other uses.

This article is about how you communicate in a grid down situation.

It’s easy. You USE Ham Radio. You ask the hams in the area to pass messages (and they will, remember it’s a SERVICE). Amateur Radio Operators are usually there for Wild Fires in Colorado, assisting the Fire Fighters, the Police and medical personnel in communicating everything from personal messages to locations of hot spots, or where to direct an ambulance.

What if there’s no hams in your area? Easy, YOU be the Ham. YOU take the time and study for a simple test (or two) to get the Technician License. This gives you a LOT of privileges on the radio frequencies, and most importantly, helps to train you to be that guy or gal that works with the first responders in your area in emergencies.

The second level up is General Class license, which gives you all the other things you need to communicate world wide through High Frequency (HF) Radio.

So how are you going to communicate during a grid down? You become the Amateur Radio operator. YOU set up a station. YOU get your power requirements (batteries, generator, solar panels) and radio station (radios required on your chosen frequencies) and you learn about antennas. YOU set up the antennas.

Most importantly, you become the “Elmer” to those around you, including young children to bring them into the Amateur Radio life. An Elmer is a teacher, someone who is usually “older” (but, not always) that passes on knowledge to others.

Listen, this isn’t a joke. This isn’t just for “nerds” in the basement. This is for all of us. All the Patriots NEED to understand they are the next level up from the regular civilians around them.

Being a Patriot doesn’t mean you’re a good guy with a gun. It means you’re a good guy who can do a LOT of things, including, when the shit hits the fan, COMMUNICATE with other Good Guys with Guns and Radios.

Seriously. What are you waiting for? Get out and do it.

Don’t believe me? Read this guy’s blog entry too:

Doomsday Clock

Doomsday clock inches forward to three minutes from catastrophic Midnight

The end of civilisation is nigh, according to ‘doomsayers’. Picture: Thinkstock. Source: News Limited

DOOMSAYERS, prepare your bunkers. The ‘Doomsday Clock’ is ticking.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb, say the world is now three minutes from a catastrophic midnight and the closest it has been in 30 years.

The clock moved forward two minutes, citing global warming and the proliferation of nuclear weaponry as the world’s greatest threats.

Atomic testing in the 1950s saw the Doomsday Clock move closer to midnight than it has ever been. Picture shows testing in the Australian outback. Source: News Corp Australia

“This is about Doomsday; this is about the end of civilisation as we know it,” Bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict said.

“The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was created in 1945 and the clock first appeared two years later on the Bulletin’s magazine cover. The minute hand has moved as far from midnight as 17 minutes (1991) but was once just two minutes away (1953).

Climate scientist Richard Somerville said a ‘major climatic disruption’ could be imminent. Picture: Cliff Owen / AP Source: AP

The last time the clock was at three minutes to midnight was in 1983 during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union.

Richard Somerville, a member of the 20-member board of scientists at the Bulletin, said the burning of fossil fuels will lead to a “major climatic disruption globally”.

‘The urgency has nothing to do with politics or ideology,” Dr Somerville said.

“It arises from the laws of physics and biology and chemistry”.


See the book on “Basic Survival and Communications Skills in the Aftermath”.  Kindle digital format.



Free Book Tomorrow

#survival #teotwawki #aftermath #Hamradio #communications #prepper

Wednesday Only.  Free Kindle Book.

Get your FREE copy on Wednesday.  I highly recommend this book.  Put it on your kindle.  If you do NOT have a kindle you can read it with a kindle app on your computer, but it’s a great addition to your survival books.

The author covers things like ham radio and various other radio services, scanners and even some basic survival skills.  The book is for all ages, all levels of preparedness and whether you’re an expert or novice you should find this book helpful.  The author covers the material in a sometimes humorous manner, but hits the important points.

Mr. Donaldson emphasizes the use of the personal computer in all cases, YOUR BRAIN, which will not be taken out by an EMP, or blizzard.  Survival is not about tools and collections of stuff, but using your mind.  But he does say that a good gun in your bug out bag will probably come in handy. (Personally, I think a good gun on my hip is better than one in my bug out bag, but that’s me).


A Radio Primer

A Radio Primer

© March 1998-2013, America Patriot

(This article is not simply radio theory. It is actually a story about childhood discoveries. However, the article will give some basic radio theory skills and teach you something about how to build a simple, but useful radio from almost nothing. AP-March 1998, changes, updates, modifications and error correction 1998-2013.  This article appears on the blog site under the “Survival Pages” as well.)

I became interested in radio when I was about 5 years old. I used to visit my great grandmother deep in the mountains of Kentucky as a little boy. She had this absolutely magnificent, old (even then) radio. It was huge and sat on a pedestal. She had exactly one electrical socket in the entire cabin in which she lived and into that socket was plugged that old radio. When I visited her one time and spent the night sleeping on the floor of the old log cabin, I asked her before bed time to turn on the radio.

She had this elaborate tuning scheme where she fiddled with several knobs and eventually tuned in a station that was playing “The Grand Ole Opry” show. I listened for a while and then went off to bed, but not before I asked her how the voices got in the box. Back in those days, we didn’t own a television, and the only radio I can recall before that one was in the car in which my father drove us from Detroit, to Kentucky. She smiled at me and said there was a little man in the radio. I laughed and said there wasn’t. She reached up on top and unlatched the lid of the big wooden box and the light went out. The only other light was from the “coal-oil lamp” (kerosene for those of you that don’t speak Kentuckian!) and she reached inside the radio. I was so small I remember it being way over my head. She pulled a little doll of some sort from within. He had huge, coal-black eyes and a big smiley mouth and she held him up for me to see.

“That is the man that makes the music…” and of course I interrupted, telling her it wasn’t either. So, my mother and great grandmother sent me off to sleep before I could protest much more. Anyway, that was the beginning of my reason for wanting to understand radios. I KNEW in my heart my great grandmother wouldn’t fib to me, but, I also knew that little man couldn’t have been doing all those voices and songs by himself inside that little box! I tried several times to look inside that box, but gave up eventually. I couldn’t reach it.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, another grandmother, my father’s mom, brought me a Christmas present when she visited us in Michigan. The box I opened contained a handful of wire, some plastic parts, and some metal pieces, along with an earphone and a little glass thing with wires coming out of the ends. The box said “Build your own Radio!” I thought, “Yeah… right…”.

I’d already been looking inside of radios and televisions by that time, and knew there was no WAY this thing would work. Where were the tubes! Where were the batteries or the electric plug? How about a speaker!? Anyway, that evening, after things were settled down and I could sneak off to my room with my new toys, I kept being drawn to that box. Finally, I started reading the instructions. I learned it was what was called a “Crystal Radio”, and wasn’t quite like “real crystal radios”, but would be just as good. If you have stuck with me this far you will see that I was interested in radios and communications from a very early age. And if you continue to stay with me for a few more pages, I promise a little entertainment, some actual learning and a skill you will never regret knowing. That is building a simple little radio set that you can use to pick up stations from all over the US, Canada or your region of the planet.

The Radio

About the time I finished reading the instructions on how to put this thing together, I began to realize that the people that had put the kit together were dead serious and were promising me that it would pick up AM radio stations. I still couldn’t believe it, but set to building the thing.

There were instructions for how to wind a coil of wire, and they were very precise. Also, there was a long metal rod, a little longer than the length of the coil, and a brass ball with a hole in it. It was supposed to slide along the brass rod, and after being mounted inside of the plastic “radio box” the coil would mount inside. Some metal clips held things in place. The two ends of the wire had to be cleaned off to make an electrical contact and the length of the coil itself where the brass ball was supposed to touch also had to be cleaned of the enamel insulation on the “magnet wire”. Eventually, I got to the part where I snapped the pieces in place, the wires connected like they showed in the manual and the little glass thing with two wires I discovered was called a “Crystal Diode” (ah… hence the name ‘crystal radio’, I thought). Actually, I learned much later that wasn’t the origin of the name, but for my eight year old mind, I was already seriously stretching electronic theory!

Well, that night, I finished the radio and just before I was going to put the headset to my ears, my mother called in and told me it was time to get to sleep. I reluctantly put the thing away on my dresser and went off to say good night to the adults and my siblings (some of whom had toys with batteries and were already running them down).

The next day, I basically forgot about the radio until later that evening. I remember playing GI Joe with my brothers for several hours that day. When I did remember the radio, I quickly forgot about GI Joe and my brothers and ran into the room where the radio was and set up out onto the desk my brother and I shared. I hooked up the earphones and started listening. I ran that little brass ball (connected to the plastic push-lever that moved it) back and forth a million times and heard… absolutely nothing. Not a sound escaped from the earphones. I thought they might be broken, so I kept messing around with them until I ended up breaking one of the earphones. Mad at myself, I grabbed the instructions once more and started reading. I read them over and over. I was missing something.

The thing I was missing was the back page of the manual. It was only about 8 or 10 pages, but the very last page, the one I needed was missing. After digging through all of the stuff piled in the bedroom floor, I found the page I was missing. It was talking about an “Antenna”. Not only that, it was talking about something called “The Ground”. I couldn’t see how the “Ground” was going to help me get this stupid box working. There were no batteries and I’d broken one of the earphones already. This called for some special work. The antenna was supposed to be a wire, at least forty feet, stretched from my house to a tree. The only tree I had was about fifteen feet outside my window, and it was winter, AND it was wet and cold outside! So, I did the only thing a kid can do with the odds against him… I went and found my Father and asked him to explain this stupid thing to me.

Now, my father was, of course, the smartest man in the whole universe. Even Superman wouldn’t have messed with my dad in those days. He was big, about 6’2″ and weighed in at about 200 pounds. He was a Marine in the Korean War, knew karate and drove a truck when he went to work… a BIG truck. SO he MUST know something about this thing. Well, he didn’t. In fact, he did help me string a wire out the window to the tree, but didn’t know anymore about how a radio would work without batteries than I did. Then he smiled and told me to “read the instructions”. ACK! I was going to have to do this myself!

That evening, I finally got the antenna wired up, connected to the radio and the broken earphone repaired (my father DID know how to use a soldering iron). I sat down in front of the radio and began wiggling that lever back and forth. NOTHING! I was getting mad and I was going to write a letter to these people that got kids hopes up! I had, by some coincidence, attached a piece of wire to “The Ground” clip, still not quite understanding what driving a pipe into the dirt outside was going to accomplish. A some point, after becoming frustrated, I managed to kick the wire over against the heater vent on the baseboard. I remember them in that house, because they were shiny silver and didn’t match the wooden floors, or the color of the walls. I hear a “CRACKLE” in the ear phone.

This time I hooked the wire to the vent, not really caring this time if it worked. I was already thinking of ways that GI Joe could use the thing as a command post. He would appreciate the wires more than I did. I plopped the earphones that were attached to a wire head-thingy over my head and for the last time, started pushing the little level up and down the dial. When I reached one side of the limit I could push the lever, music filled my ears. It was music from a radio play. Some applause and laughter and then the actors began speaking. I listened to the program for the better part of ten minutes before I realized this contraption was working! I ran and got my entire family, who by this time thought I was headed for the loony with wires all over the bedroom, and earphones on my head, and NO BATTERIES. Then my dad listened. He told me, “See, I knew you could get it working” and he wandered out of the room. No one else really appreciated what I learned that day, except me, and perhaps my father.

The station I heard was CKLW, in Windsor, Canada. That station was probably a good 25 or 30 miles from my house in Detroit, Michigan. A couple of weeks later, I went to the library and checked out books on radio, AM radio specifically, because my little “crystal” set actually was an Amplitude Modulated radio receiver. Those books caused me to continue with electronics into High School and on into the military a good many years later. I began to experiment with my little radio receiver after that and after talking someone into letting me shovel snow from their walk (I made 3 dollars!) I convinced my dad to take me to Olson Electronics where I bought a bundle of diodes, some “magnet wire” and some little boards with holes in them so I could build my own radios. While I was there I saw something I had never seen, a Citizens Band Radio. The CB actually would become my second transmitter many years later, but, that is another story. I built several radios from scratch, and mostly, they all worked.

Basically, after I learned all I could about AM radios, I read other books on the theory of how radios and televisions functioned. This little radio, the crystal radio, turned into a hobby I kept all my life. Every so often I will throw together the parts to make one, use it for awhile, and usually give it away to someone who’s never seen one before. It’s been a few years now, and the last one I built went to a student at the technical school at which I was teaching. Those of you that have read thus far are asking, “When is this guy going to shut up and give us some real instructions?” Well… in the next chapter. Go get a cold drink (or a warm one if it is winter time where you live) and take a break for a bit. When you come back, be prepared to read some slightly technical material. I promise not to make it too technical for those of you that don’t know anything at all about radios. See you in a few minutes.

A Simple “Crystal” Radio

Welcome back to radio theory 101. First of all, let’s talk about the ‘theory’ behind radio signals, as it will help you to understand more about why you are going to be winding coils, and stringing wires high in the air above your head.

In physics, a radio signal is considered to be a ‘wave’. A wave is simply an electromagnetic waveform. An example that you could see would be dropping a pebble into a calm pond. The ripples you see are waves. Another example would be to take a rope, about fifteen or twenty feet long and tie it to a doorknob or other stationary object. Now step back to about two-thirds the length of the rope and begin to whip the loose end up and down. The motion will carry over in the rope, and create a wave that moves toward the stationary tie point of the rope. Basically, that is a wave. Sound also travels the same way, as waveforms, but sound waves are much slower than radio waves.

Radio waves travel at the speed of light, which just happens to be approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. That is 300 MILLION METERS in one second. In another measurement, light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. For anyone that doesn’t know, in US measurements, one meter is equal to 39.47 inches, or just over a yard. Incidentally,. Sound waves travel at about 1130 feet per second at sea level and a little slower above sea level (at my altitude, which is 6520 feet above sea level, it travels on a given day at about 1138 feet per second, depending on the temperature).

Radio and light waves travel at about the same speed, no matter if it is in air, or in a vacuum, like space. A quick reality check is to think back, if you remember the moon landings. There was about a 3 second delay from the time you heard Houston Control end a transmission, and the beginning of the transmission from the astronauts on the moon. The reason is, the moon is just far enough away most of the time for light (or radio waves) leaving the surface of the Earth to get to the Moon, 1.5 seconds later. Round trip, it takes a full 3 seconds or more if the Moon is a little further away!

Since a radio wave is really an electromagnetic waveform, it has other properties. For instance, it can be used to induce current into wires. Since that is a whole different class on physics, we won’t delve too deeply here. Suffice it to say that when a radio wave cuts across or passes over a wire, a current is induced into that wire. This current is the essential part of the radio wave we need to “grab” from the air to collect the information or intelligence on the radio signal. Intelligence can be information, music, pictures (like television) or even occasionally, news reports! (Sometimes there isn’t ANY intelligence in news reports!) Our basic “Signal capturing device” is nothing more than an ANTENNA! A simple piece of wire will usually work for this.

Once we have that radio signal captured on the wire, we have to give it some place to go. Something I mentioned in my story was the idea that “The Ground” had something to do with that radio working. Though I didn’t realize it when I connected that wire to the heater vents, I was ‘grounding’ my receiver. I understand it now, but didn’t then.

Electrical signals (like the one we have induced into our antenna) need some place to go. The Earth, that is the planet Earth, and the earth or dirt beneath our feet will actually conduct signals. In fact, if I were to build an antenna 100 feet tall, and leave it standing in the air, and made sure to bury the end closest to the earth, electrical currents from radio signals would be induced all day (and night) long, and travel down the antenna to the earth where they would… simply, for our purposes, dissipate or vanish. What we need to do now, is to put a machine or some kind of tool in the middle, between the antenna and the ground, to do some work for us. It must decipher that electrical signal and change in into something that we can use – in this case sound.

The next few pages, I will describe a simple radio that should work just about anywhere in the world. You should be able to build this simple device for very little cost, unless you want to spend more to make it look pretty or something.

The radio itself will need some things, and then you will need to make an antenna to make this contraption work. Most of these items can be obtained at Radio Shack, or some similar electronics store. There are places to mail order some parts from, but that probably won’t be necessary unless you live so far away from town that it isn’t worth the trip in!

You will need several meters of something called Magnet Wire. Magnet wire is thin copper wire, covered with enamel paint. It is measured in ‘gauge’. What you want is something that is not as thin as human hair, but not too thick either. It will be approximately 22 or 24 gauge. If you buy it, it will probably come on a roll and be a couple of hundred feet and I have no idea what it might cost these days. Barring buying it, you can obtain magnet wire from the inside of a transformer. Just about any kind will do, so the wall warts that you use to power telephones, tape recorders, scanners and such. These are usually called “AC Adaptors”. Problem is you don’t want to tear one up, if it works. A few people have broken things like that at garage sales and so on. Look around.

You will have to CAREFULLY disassemble the plastic case to get the actual transformer out of the inside. I typically use a hammer. :) Just crack the case and pull it apart and remove the heavy metal thing inside. That is the transformer. If you can see reddish colored wire going around and around the inside of the heavy metal part, then you have hit pay dirt! Unwind all the wire and put it around a wooden dowel or something similar, you will need most of it. Once you collect the wire, you will need a coil form upon which to wind the wire.

My favorite tube is easily obtainable from right around most homes. It is just the right length and width to make a coil that will allow you to tune in local AM radio stations. That tube can be found in most bathrooms, just before you toss the trash out… a (ahem…) toilet paper cardboard tube. It is 4.5 inches long and 1.75 inches in diameter. When you begin to wind the wire, you will need to lay it from one end and tape it or some other way secure it to the tube. Carefully laying the wire about ½ inch from one side, begin winding the wire neatly, and not overlapping anything. When you are finished, you should have a nice, neat coil that goes around and around the tube, leaving about œ inch of space on either end of the tube. The coil, if you measure will be 3.5 inches wide along the tube. You will need to make sure the wire is tight around the tube so that it does not move at all. Once it is, tightly secure it at both ends and make sure you leave a few inches of wire at either end. Figure 1 shows you what it should look like.


If you look at the picture above (Fig. 1) you can see a basic idea of the way the coil should be set up. Once you have the coil built, you might want to find a board or something upon which to mount it.

Next we will want to obtain some parts for our earphone. What we require for this to work is something called a “High Impedance” earphone. At the time of this writing, I know of no places to purchase the correct parts, but I know of a source that is tried and true. If you take any standard telephone handset apart (I don’t mean the new-fangled electronic telephones, but the older, 1950-1970 telephone units), you will find that the earphone portion will unscrew. By unscrewing this plastic cover and removing the metal part inside you will have exactly what we need to make an earphone. If you look at figure 2, you will see what the front of the device looks like. Figure 3 is a little larger picture of the backside of the object, showing that there are two screws. This is where your wires connect to the radio. Some of these devices had the wires soldered on. This is ok, if you know how to solder (another handy skill to learn ANYWAY). Set this aside until we are ready to put it together.

The next thing we will need is a part from Radio Shack or some other electronics supply store. Radio Shacks are usually all over the place and I know they have them in many countries besides the US. If I remember correctly, they are called Tandy Stores in Australia. Not sure about the UK and Europe however. The device you are looking for is called a ‘diode’. In the past, before semiconductor devices were invented, the “crystal” of the “crystal radio” was ACTUALLY a rock that contained small crystals of gallium. The “crystal” you are going to use is made of a semiconductor material called Germanium and perhaps some gallium-arsenide. No matter, these devices are so inexpensive; you can probably pick up about a dozen for a buck. Figure 4 shows a representation of what a glass encased germanium diode looks like. The colored bands are not important, but they are there in the picture to show you what you might see. They might be different colors, or only one band. However, one end will be marked in some manner. Incidentally, that end that is marked is called the “cathode” and the other end is called the “anode”.

Note that even though there are some technical aspects of how a diode works, we won’t go too deeply into the theory right now. Suffice it to say that the diode “detects” the audio signal from the radio signal, turning it into something that can be used to power the earphone.

So far, we have three important parts; the earphone, the coil and a diode. We also need a few more things. We will need some hookup wire; any kind will do, as long as it isn’t too thick. You will require a mounting board for this radio as well, an antenna (about 40-60 feet of wire will work), some wire to make a ground connection and, we will need a ‘tuner’ of some sort. Your ground should be a cold water pipe, as close to where you wish to set up the radio. An antenna should be strung outside, if possible and as high away from the ground as possible. A length of wire will suffice, with one end terminating at the point where it will attach to the crystal radio.

The idea of a tuner is to change the size of the coil that you have made. Rather than unwind the wire to make it shorter or longer, we are going to make a mechanical device that will allow us to make the coil think it is longer or shorter. Figure 5 shows the details, but essentially, you will need something that will slide back and forth across the already assembled coil. In figure 5 you will see the assembled device. A metal slider is mounted with a screw to the board and bent so that it will touch the coil. It can be made from any stiff sort of metal, even a tin can cut with tin-snips, or a wire mounted to the underside of a Popsicle stick would be ok. If you slide it back and forth you will see it creates a small arc across the coil. What you will need to do next is tricky, but must be done. Get some fine grit sand paper (00 if you have it should work) and lightly but CAREFULLY sand the insulation from the wire along the arc that the metal strip will eventually contact. What you are making is the actual tuner for the radio.

By adjusting the location of this slider, you will be able to change the frequency of the radio by changing the “inductance” of the coil. If the coil is correctly built, and the diode is the correct type, AND you get the antenna, the ground and the earphone all in place, you will hear AM radio stations in the range of about 500 kHz to 1600 kHz, or the AM Broadcast band!


The Theory of the Crystal Radio

I’ve already given you most of the theory behind this little device. Basically, a radio signal hits the antenna, and looking for a place to “go to rest”, it tries to go to ground. Mother Nature is good about trying to reach equilibrium, so the signal will seek to neutralize itself, hence (a simple explanation, granted but correct for our purposes) it tries to go to the ground connection.

The coil sets the frequency. Technically, there probably would be a tunable capacitor instead, but those are harder to find than the simple tools we have here. By adjusting the coil’s physical size (that is, moving the slider back and forth) you can change the amount of inductance, which in turn determines the operating frequency of the device. The interesting part is, that the larger the coil, the LOWER the operating frequency, and the smaller the coil, the HIGHER the frequency

The diode “detects” the Amplitude Modulated signal that is riding on the Radio Frequency CARRIER wave. That is, the radio wave itself. The audio signal, voice or music, has been superimposed over the radio signal by a method called “modulation”. If you had a way to see the signal, it might look like figure 6.


Once the diode ‘sees’ the AM signal coming in, it will cut in half the top signal, giving you the bottom half of the above picture. What you are seeing (ok, hearing!) is the actual audio signal as it was originally produced at the radio station. An FM signal is quite different and can not be reproduced using this exact method of detection. It is possible to do something called “slope detection” with an AM receiver, but it is not really practical with this sort of radio. An actual “schematic” follows in Figure 7.


Now, one last item of interest, let’s assume you do not have access to diodes, or crystals from rocks. What to do, what to do? Well, if you can find some old, blued razor blades there are tiny crystals of gallium produced on the surface of these blades in the manufacturing process. These crystals are deposited on the surface of the blade when they are turned blue. I realize they are hard to come by in this US these days, but there are places they can still be found. However, by itself, it won’t work. You will need a tiny piece of a wooden pencil, a safety pin and in place of the diode; this little device WILL serve as the detector. Please, see figure 8 for the details.


I hope this gets you started on the road to radio reception without the aid of batteries, electricity and with very little equipment or cost. I must warn you of several things. First of all, this is not that easy to make work and patience will be a necessity. Secondly, when you get it working, it will surprise and amaze you that something like this will actually work! Lastly, you might get hooked on playing with toys like this and wish to experiment. There are many books already published on such things, but this sort of information is very difficult to find in the library these days. Perhaps, someone is trying to keep us from knowing this kind of information, or worse, the skills to do such things have died with the older people who came up with it. In either case, this is my attempt to pass on this incredible and important, as well as useful information. I suggest you do the same with it.

To one and all – 73!

To my Patriot Friends

Your blogs are monitored.  Your phone records are being gone through.  Data from your computer goes through an ISP and is vacuumed up by “No Such Agency”, collected, collated, stored and kept on ice for at least five years hence.  Anything you write, every site you visit, every blog you read or post you make is subjected to reading – even if it isn’t really “read” by a person it is there “just in case”.

The Fourth Amendment states clearly what your rights are.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

To be clear, your “papers” in the form of “data” or “metadata” have been searched, seized, violated and kept.  No warrants were issued.  No “Oath of Affirmation” by those whom consider you “suspect” was given.  No Judge consulted.  Your home was invaded.  You phone “tapped” – perhaps not in the conventional sense where a human listens in, but your phone calls were logged, collected and linked to those numbers you called, and those who called you.

Trust is sometimes a difficult thing to grasp, and nearly impossible to retrieve once lost.  The NSA, an arm of the US Intelligence community is there for a reason; their job is collect data on our adversaries, not on our own people.  This Agency is being abused by the US Government, plain and simple.  The Justice Department is corrupt.  The Internal Revenue System is corrupt.  Congress is remiss.  The President is culpable in breaking all the laws of our Constitution.

Do YOU trust your information to the US Government?  Do you trust your health to the IRS?  Do you trust your Freedom to this President?  Do you trust your life in the hands of the Justice Department?

Pens, paper, hand-carried messages, whispered conversations, coded communications.

Survivalists out here in the real world KNOW that counting on technology is probably a cool thing to do, but not always is it practical.  When the power goes out (and it will) you can’t count on your electric motors, vehicles, phones, radios and such.  You can’t always depend on technological marvels no matter how small.  Remember this; pen and paper can’t be data mined unless it it taken into custody.  Whispered conversations to those near you are rarely listened in on.  Turning off your cell phone is not a promise of security, but removing the battery is.  Posting something on a computer is kept for years; perhaps forever for all we know.Survivalists do understand this world, they do things in a simpler way for a reason.

Perhaps we should all consider “simple is safer”….


Common Sense Survival

Read and heed….


When it comes to any type of TEOTWAWKI (The end of the world as we know it) survival situations, there are some common sense survival tactics that everyone should be aware of.

  • Survival requires proper planning, a proper mindset and good gear.
  • Food, water, guns, ammo and other necessary survival gear should be already stocked before a survival situation occurs.
  • Avoid dehydration and starvation at all costs.
  • Have a secure, well stocked, defendable location available.
  • Firearms and knives for defensive purposes are essential.
  • Avoid strange, dangerous areas and strange, dangerous people.
  • Crowds can quickly turn violent and can get you killed.
  • Light and noise discipline when appropriate is essential.
  • People will fight over scant resources.
  • Thugs will try and take what you have.
  • Martial law is always bad.
  • People who thought you were nuts for prepping when times were good will start showing up on  your doorstep when times are bad. 
  • Never show weakness.
  • You…

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EMP threat?

A few weeks back the North Koreans made a huge stink in the world when they launched a “satellite” into space.  That payload is still tumbling through space on a polar orbit.  It occurred to me that perhaps the payload might have been a test to see if they could orbit something; in fact most of the experts in field believe this is what they accomplished.

However, there is now some “concern” in the field of Missile Defense that the North Koreans might have actually orbited a nuclear bomb, a small one to be sure, not anything that would be any bigger than say the Hiroshima bomb. 

In case you are not aware, Electromagnetic Pulse can be generated with an atomic or thermonuclear device at a few dozen miles above the Earth.  Assuming (and of course this is a low probability) they orbited a nuke of any sort and can remotely detonate the device there is a possibility this alleged device could create an EMP over the US.

There is plenty of evidence to show EMP could cripple the US (or any other country for that matter) and this isn’t a laughing matter.

On top of all of this, the Chinese have decided to move large numbers of troops along the Northern border.  They have decided to push for “operations in an EMP environment” ( and the Russians have decided to accuse the US of provocation.

As an old, retired “Cold Warrior” from the 70’s and 80’s I am giving my personal warning that something “is up”.  We’re watching the old Cold War Signs we worked hard to observer before the Russians would jump the gun and nuke the US.  I can’t emphasize how serious this situation is, regardless of Comical Kim.  While he is probably the most impotent leader in the world, he commands a rather large army, does have atomic bombs, can possibly install them on missiles and is as unstable as nitroglycerin.

The Communists band together for the purpose of destroying Capitalism, which places Russia (a supporter of North Korea anyway) and China (an ally of North Korea in the Korean War my father fought in) firmly in the Court of Comical Kim.

If that tumbling satellite happens to have a bomb on it, and it happens to be detonated above the US the EMP generated will take out power grids in a very wide foot print (depending on the altitude, and geo-location of the blast).  Such an event could trigger a much, much larger, more serious event than a DPRK Comedy Show.

Certainly, the US would retaliate and Pyongyang would be a glowing hole in the surface of the planet.  But there is China and Russia, both with nuclear weapons, mostly aimed at the US and allies. 

The continued blackmail cycles that Kim has taken us through (from his father first and now him) have to stop.  The cycle must be broken here and now and before the next incident actually takes us not to the brink of nuclear war, but into Armageddon.

Patriots, if you’re NOT prepared yet for what is coming you’d better take some time now to get right with God, your family and get your shit together.  I can tell you that I’m rarely right in any of my “global predictions” – but I can also tell you that what I am seeing isn’t just some lame brained dufus peasant rattling his crappy wooden stick at the Roman Empire. 

We’re looking at the one guy who has the ability to create a situation that drags the United States, Russia and China – not to mention other allies of the US into global thermonuclear war.

The current administration in the US has us in turmoil over gun rights; this is planned in my opinion, and this North Korean thing is either a Wag-the-Dog situation to keep us from paying attention to things closer to home, or it (with the involvement of Russia and China) are planned events to disarm the public, and turn over the land mass and slaves in America to the Communists.

Maybe I’m being over dramatic and this is nothing more than another Korean Kommiety Show – I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling about any of this.

EMP – Electromagnetic Pulse

A lot has been written on EMP or Electromagnetic Pulse.  Some true, some myth.  We will try to give you some facts here.  One thing to remember is we just don’t know ALL the facts, and there’s plenty of fiction out there in the Intrawebs telling us some untruths.  Keep that in mind as you read.

Go here, read it:

Clandestine Communications

What is “Clandestine Communications”?  Basically, passing messages through either secret or secure methods.  This could be over a radio, or a message in a bottle, a dead-drop location, a note placed in a certain book in the library on a certain day (similar to a dead drop) or having a 15 year old kid on a bike who is out and about stopping and dropping a message for a group.

On the Ham Radio side of this, I wrote an article about “Pirate Radio” in an effort to give folks some “ideas”.  Of course I would never condone anything illegal.  What you do is up to you. because it is after all still a Free Country.  And Freedom is not free.  Click the link below to read more.

Pirate Radio

Pirate radio – no, probably not a whole lot of eye patches, “Arrrrs” and “Mateys” there, but you might hear such things.


Amateur Radio for Patriots

Amateur Radio for Patriots

A place about Radios for American Patriots

I’ve been asked numerous questions over the past few weeks about Amateur Radio – all the questions are coming from Americans, Patriots who are tired of being treated like Subjects in a Monarchy.

As a Ham we’re not “supposed” to talk politics and some other things on the radio.  But, as a US Citizen, a gun owner, a person who not only believes in but lives by the US Constitution, the Bill or Rights and the Declaration of Independence.  Therefore – I can only give legal advice, and suggest legal methods of Amateur Radio Communications.  This site is for those who have similar beliefs as myself and I will assist them in every way possible to learn and understand radio theory, communications and use Amateur Radio as a most effective means of communicating either in the current situation or a Real World Crap Has Hit the Fan situation.

Stop over and check it out.  If you’re a ham – who is a Patriot, or a Patriot that wants to become a ham – or you just want to learn something new about communications, for when the cell phones won’t work, when you might need to call for assistance, when you realize that the Internet doesn’t function any more… and you just need to get a SitRep… then this WILL be a blog for you to check out.

Over time I will cover many aspects of Amateur (or Ham) radio – and how you can use it to your advantage.  I know a lot of folks don’t want any more “licenses” and want to be “ignored” by the government.  But, seriously, if you’re reading this site – you’re not going to be ignored, and if you’re smart, you aren’t “going away” either.  So, sit back, grab a brew and read when you’re not out training on other venues.

See you there.

How to kill UAVs

Read the site below.  The alternate location listed second. The third link is a Google Map showing US locations of drones.